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The Pulp Magazine Archive

Pulp magazines (often referred to as "the pulps"), also collectively known as pulp fiction, refers to inexpensive fiction magazines published from 1896 through the 1950s. The typical pulp magazine was seven inches wide by ten inches high, half an inch thick, and 128 pages long. Pulps were printed on cheap paper with ragged, untrimmed edges.

The name pulp comes from the cheap wood pulp paper on which the magazines were printed. Magazines printed on better paper were called "glossies" or "slicks." In their first decades, they were most often priced at ten cents per magazine, while competing slicks were 25 cents apiece. Pulps were the successor to the penny dreadfuls, dime novels, and short fiction magazines of the 19th century. Although many respected writers wrote for pulps, the magazines are best remembered for their lurid and exploitative stories and sensational cover art. Modern superhero comic books are sometimes considered descendants of "hero pulps"; pulp magazines often featured illustrated novel-length stories of heroic characters, such as The Shadow, Doc Savage, and The Phantom Detective.

The first "pulp" was Frank Munsey's revamped Argosy Magazine of 1896, about 135,000 words (192 pages) per issue on pulp paper with untrimmed edges and no illustrations, not even on the cover. While the steam-powered printing press had been in widespread use for some time, enabling the boom in dime novels, prior to Munsey, no one had combined cheap printing, cheap paper and cheap authors in a package that provided affordable entertainment to working-class people. In six years Argosy went from a few thousand copies per month to over half a million.

Street & Smith were next on the market. A dime novel and boys' weekly publisher, they saw Argosy's success, and in 1903 launched The Popular Magazine, billed as the "biggest magazine in the world" by virtue of being two pages longer than Argosy. Due to differences in page layout, the magazine had substantially less text than Argosy. The Popular Magazine introduced color covers to pulp publishing. The magazine began to take off when, in 1905, the publishers acquired the rights to serialize Ayesha, by H. Rider Haggard, a sequel to his popular novel She. Haggard's Lost World genre influenced several key pulp writers, including Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, Talbot Mundy and Abraham Merritt. In 1907, the cover price rose to 15 cents and 30 pages were added to each issue; along with establishing a stable of authors for each magazine, this change proved successful and circulation began to approach that of Argosy. Street and Smith's next innovation was the introduction of specialized genre pulps, each magazine focusing on a genre such as detective stories, romance, etc.

At their peak of popularity in the 1920s and 1930s, the most successful pulps could sell up to one million copies per issue. The most successful pulp magazines were Argosy, Adventure, Blue Book and Short Stories described by some pulp historians as "The Big Four". Among the best-known other titles of this period were Amazing Stories, Black Mask, Dime Detective, Flying Aces, Horror Stories, Love Story Magazine, Marvel Tales, Oriental Stories, Planet Stories, Spicy Detective, Startling Stories, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Unknown, Weird Tales and Western Story Magazine. Although pulp magazines were primarily a US phenomenon, there were also a number of British pulp magazines published between the Edwardian era and World War Two. Notable UK pulps included Pall Mall Magazine, The Novel Magazine, Cassell's Magazine, The Story-Teller, The Sovereign Magazine, Hutchinson's Adventure-Story and Hutchinson's Mystery-Story. The German fantasy magazine Der Orchideengarten had a similar format to American pulp magazines, in that it was printed on rough pulp paper and heavily illustrated.

The Second World War paper shortages had a serious impact on pulp production, starting a steady rise in costs and the decline of the pulps. Beginning with Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine in 1941, pulp magazines began to switch to digest size; smaller, thicker magazines. In 1949, Street & Smith closed most of their pulp magazines in order to move upmarket and produce slicks.[8] The pulp format declined from rising expenses, but even more due to the heavy competition from comic books, television, and the paperback novel. In a more affluent post-war America, the price gap compared to slick magazines was far less significant. In the 1950s, Men's adventure magazines began to replace the pulp.

The 1957 liquidation of the American News Company, then the primary distributor of pulp magazines, has sometimes been taken as marking the end of the "pulp era"; by that date, many of the famous pulps of the previous generation, including Black Mask, The Shadow, Doc Savage, and Weird Tales, were defunct. Almost all of the few remaining pulp magazines are science fiction or mystery magazines now in formats similar to "digest size", such as Analog Science Fiction and Fact and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. The format is still in use for some lengthy serials, like the German science fiction weekly Perry Rhodan.

Over the course of their evolution, there were a huge number of pulp magazine titles; Harry Steeger of Popular Publications claimed that his company alone had published over 300, and at their peak they were publishing 42 titles per month. Many titles of course survived only briefly. While the most popular titles were monthly, many were bimonthly and some were quarterly. The collapse of the pulp industry changed the landscape of publishing because pulps were the single largest sales outlet for short stories. Combined with the decrease in slick magazine fiction markets, writers attempting to support themselves by creating fiction switched to novels and book-length anthologies of shorter pieces.

Pulp covers were printed in color on higher-quality (slick) paper. They were famous for their half-dressed damsels in distress, usually awaiting a rescuing hero. Cover art played a major part in the marketing of pulp magazines. The early pulp magazines could boast covers by some distinguished American artists; The Popular Magazine had covers by N.C. Wyeth, and Edgar Franklin Wittmack contributed cover art to Argosy and Short Stories. Later, many artists specialized in creating covers mainly for the pulps; a number of the most successful cover artists became as popular as the authors featured on the interior pages. Among the most famous pulp artists were Walter Baumhofer, Earle K. Bergey, Margaret Brundage, Edd Cartier, Virgil Finlay, Earl Mayan, Frank R. Paul, Norman Saunders, Nick Eggenhofer, (who specialized in Western illustrations), Rudolph Belarski and Sidney Riesenberg. Covers were important enough to sales that sometimes they would be designed first; authors would then be shown the cover art and asked to write a story to match.

Later pulps began to feature interior illustrations, depicting elements of the stories. The drawings were printed in black ink on the same cream-colored paper used for the text, and had to use specific techniques to avoid blotting on the coarse texture of the cheap pulp. Thus, fine lines and heavy detail were usually not an option. Shading was by crosshatching or pointillism, and even that had to be limited and coarse. Usually the art was black lines on the paper's background, but Finlay and a few others did some work that was primarily white lines against large dark areas.

Another way pulps kept costs down was by paying authors less than other markets; thus many eminent authors started out in the pulps before they were successful enough to sell to better-paying markets, and similarly, well-known authors whose careers were slumping or who wanted a few quick dollars could bolster their income with sales to pulps. Additionally, some of the earlier pulps solicited stories from amateurs who were quite happy to see their words in print and could thus be paid token amounts. There were also career pulp writers, capable of turning out huge amounts of prose on a steady basis, often with the aid of dictation to stenographers, machines or typists. Before he became a novelist, Upton Sinclair was turning out at least 8,000 words per day seven days a week for the pulps, keeping two stenographers fully employed. Pulps would often have their authors use multiple pen names so that they could use multiple stories by the same person in one issue, or use a given author's stories in three or more successive issues, while still appearing to have varied content. One advantage pulps provided to authors was that they paid upon acceptance for material instead of on publication; since a story might be accepted months or even years before publication, to a working writer this was a crucial difference in cash flow.

Some pulp editors became known for cultivating good fiction and interesting features in their magazines. Preeminent pulp magazine editors included Arthur Sullivant Hoffman (Adventure), Robert H. Davis (All-Story Weekly), Harry E. Maule (Short Stories) Donald Kennicott (Blue Book), Joseph T. Shaw (Black Mask), Farnsworth Wright (Weird Tales, Oriental Stories), John W. Campbell (Astounding Science Fiction,Unknown) and Daisy Bacon (Love Story Magazine, Detective Story Magazine).

Description of this collection from Wikipedia.

Many issues of this collection come from a variety of anonymous contributors, as well as sites such as The Pulp Magazines Project and ThePulp.net.

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IF Magazine
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The writings of Lester Del Rey have been removed due to a request by John Betancourt of Wildside Press. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: Stranger in Paradise by Jack Gaughan House Divided by Jack Gaughan Berserker's Planet (Part 1 of 2) by Jack Gaughan Cantor's War by Jack Gaughan Aura of Immortality by Jack Gaughan Second Advent by Jack Gaughan The People's Choice by uncredited Nostradamus by Jack Gaughan Ars Gratia (If, May-June 1974) by...
Topics: schoenberg, suomi, lenoir, planet, fiction, hranth, rick, anthony, leros, science fiction, rick...
IF Magazine
texts
eye 2,126
favorite 2
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(Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: Truce or Consequences by Jack Gaughan At the Core by Dan Adkins The Sign of Gree by Gray Morrow A Code for Sam by Lutjens Snow White and the Giants (Part 2 of 4) by Jack Gaughan Essays: About Scientists by Frederik Pohl Science-Fiction Fanways by Lin Carter Hue and Cry (If, November 1966) by Frederik Pohl Novelettes: Truce or Consequences by Keith Laumer At the Core by Larry Niven The Sign of Gree by C. C....
Topics: retief, alfieri, gree, remm, steve, egral, sam, giants, jota, snow white, halfway house, lib glip,...
IF Magazine
texts
eye 2,038
favorite 1
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(Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: Gambler's Choice by uncredited One-Generation New World by Jack Gaughan One-Generation New World [2] by Jack Gaughan Slaves of Silver by uncredited Star Crossing by Jack Gaughan Retief, Insider by Jack Gaughan Casey's Transfer by uncredited Space Slick by uncredited Essays: Hue and Cry (If, March-April 1971) by uncredited Reading Room (If, March-April 1971) by Lester del Rey Sf Calendar (If, March-April 1971)...
Topics: forrest, harrison, ravenshaw, magnan, targett, retief, howard, jon, dents, science fiction, star...
IF Magazine
texts
eye 2,005
favorite 2
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(Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: The Man in the Maze (Part 1 of 2) by Jack Gaughan The Rim Gods by Gray Morrow The Product of the Masses by Vaughn Bodé Slowboat Cargo (Part 3 of 3) by Dan Adkins Essays: For a Festival of Science Fiction by Frederik Pohl Meanwhile, Back at the Worldcon .... by Lin Carter Sf Calendar (If, April 1968) by uncredited Hue and Cry (If, April 1968) by Frederik Pohl Novelettes: The Rim Gods by A. Bertram Chandler The...
Topics: boardman, muller, matt, rawlins, maze, grimes, parlette, zone, pietro, jesus pietro, slowboat...
IF Magazine
texts
eye 1,953
favorite 2
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(Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: Spaceman! (Part 1 of 3) by Castellon Spaceman! (Part 1 of 3) [2] by Castellon Spaceman! (Part 1 of 3) [3] by Castellon The Robots Are Here by Jack Gaughan The Robots Are Here [2] by Jack Gaughan The Youth Addicts by Vaughn Bodé The Youth Addicts [2] by Vaughn Bodé The Youth Addicts [3] by Vaughn Bodé The Long, Slow Orbits by Virgil Finlay The Long, Slow Orbits [2] by Virgil Finlay The Long, Slow Orbits [3]...
Topics: grimes, orfeo, craven, raire, desroy, rim, baxter, ship, harriet, sir orfeo, lady raire, lord...
IF Magazine
texts
eye 1,870
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The writings of Lester Del Rey have been removed due to a request by John Betancourt of Wildside Press. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: The Mind Bomb by uncredited By Right of Succession by uncredited None but I by Jack Gaughan Survival by uncredited Down On the Farm by uncredited The Seeds of Gonyl (Part 1 of 3) by uncredited To the Last Rite! by uncredited Essays: Editor's Page (If, October 1969) by Ejler Jakobsson The Story of Our Earth:...
Topics: mallory, jann, wheat, dillingham, girk, ballod, ants, tion, robot, science fiction, mind bomb,...
The Pulp Magazine Archive
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
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eye 1,492
favorite 6
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Science Fiction novella published August 1941 issue of Amazing Stories magazine. Blurb: "Never had John Carter faced more danger than in the polar hothouse city of the yellow men of Mars."
Topics: Science Fiction, Sci-Fi, SF, Mars, Martians, Martian SFF
IF Magazine
by Galaxy Publishing Corporation
texts
eye 1,437
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Note: The serial "Three Worlds to Conquer" by Poul Anderson has been removed from this online copy at the request of the estate of Poul Anderson. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: Three Worlds to Conquer (Part 1 of 2) by McKenna Mack by Gray Morrow The Competitors by Nodel Waterspider by Virgil Finlay Waterspider [2] by Virgil Finlay Essays: The Day They Threw God at Me by Theodore Sturgeon Personal Monuments by Theodore Sturgeon...
Topics: tozzo, fermeti, anderson, poul, mack, anaka, gilly, paker, robot, poul anderson, slime mold,...
IF Magazine
by Galaxy Publishing Corporation
texts
eye 1,331
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Note: The Guest Editorial "Limiting Factor" by Poul Anderson has been removed from this online copy at the request of the estate of Poul Anderson. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: Where the Subbs Go by Jeff Jones Dismal Light by Brock Cenotaph by Eddie Jones The Creatures of Man by Joe Wehrle, Jr. The Man in the Maze (Part 2 of 2) by Jack Gaughan Essays: Guest Editorial: Limiting Factor by Poul Anderson New Currents in Fandom by Lin...
Topics: muller, raise, rawlins, boardman, eje, sunner, maze, beam, subbs, nat glover, dismal light, lee...
IF Magazine
by Galaxy Publishing Corporation
texts
eye 1,216
favorite 2
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Note: The story "The Pawob Division" by Harlan Ellison has been removed from this online copy at the request of the author. The writings of Lester Del Rey have been removed due to a request by John Betancourt of Wildside Press. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: The Holmes-Ginsbook Device by Jack Gaughan The Starman of Pritchard's Creek by Wallace Wood The Tin Fishes by Virgil Finlay The Computer Conspiracy (Part 2 of 2) by Jack...
Topics: paul, grimes, kosloff, georg, castriota, data, mai, widder, professor, paul kosloff, young widder,...
The Pulp Magazine Archive
texts
eye 1,113
favorite 7
comment 0
Monster Times 15 Sept 6 1972 (Bones)
Topics: monster, comic, tuck, comics, vampire, horror, tmt, dracula, monsters, vampires, monster times,...
The Pulp Magazine Archive
by Kingsley Amis
texts
eye 1,015
favorite 1
comment 0
1960 Science Fiction short story reprinted in anthology 6th Annual Edition: The Year's Best S-F (1962), edited by Judith Merril.
Topics: Science Fiction, Sci-Fi, SF, Mars, Martians, Martian SFF
The Pulp Magazine Archive
texts
eye 923
favorite 2
comment 0
Galileo 07 1978-03 bones
Topics: galileo, arin, bowdeen, garick, callan, lasser, uriah, kon, sidele, science, science fiction, parke...
Wonder Stories Quarterly v04n03 Stellar (Aug 1932) (cape1736)
Topics: grando, bela, bjornsen, ship, jack, wintermaine, aldane, space, stories, john hand, wonder stories,...
The Pulp Magazine Archive
texts
eye 764
favorite 2
comment 0
Odyssey v01n01 Gambi (Spring 1976)
Topics: sorokin, sim, odyssey, suley, vrodne, jeremiah, ramachandra, zoraine, wiley, science fiction, ufo...
The Pulp Magazine Archive
by Amelia R. Long
texts
eye 600
favorite 3
comment 0
Science Fiction short story published in July 1939 issue of Astounding Science-Fiction magazine. Blurb: "The Martian had a fine idea for capturing trade: be a god. The native Venusians, though, had an infallible test--"
Topics: Science Fiction, Sci-Fi, SF, Mars, Martians, Martian SFF
Impulse v01n09 (1966-11.RobertsandVinter)(AKv1.0)
Topics: arflane, rorsefne, brenn, marcia, anita, jurosh, vukasan, manfred, ulsenn, ice mother, science...
The Gate Science Fiction and Fantasy 02 1990
Topics: meara, aumk, taj, phobeya, mitch, moss, myriam, alzarus, blip, opal, science fiction, blip ship,...
The Pulp Magazine Archive
texts
eye 523
favorite 1
comment 0
Odyssey v01n02 Gambi (Summer 1976)
Topics: orolandes, warlock, clubfoot, mirandee, odyssey, ranwick, wavyhill, fiction, curran, science...
Science Stories v01n04 Palmer (Apr 1954) (cape1736)
Topics: matty, pierre, wolfe, stories, science, jeremiah, colonists, reba, oceans, science stories, joseph...
Impulse v01n12 RobertsandVinter (Feb 1967) (AKv1.0)
Topics: avery, liz, krane, cay, invisible, charteris, margie, bobby, joseph, science fiction, bad bush,...
Impulse v01n10 (1966-12.RobertsandVinter)(AKv1.0)
Topics: arflane, pergold, mannering, manfred, rorsefne, ulsenn, ship, urquart, jeff, manfred rorsefne,...
The Pulp Magazine Archive
by Better Publications, Inc.
texts
eye 382
favorite 1
comment 0
Startling Stories V 05n 02 (1941 03) The Best In Scientifiction
Topics: startling stories, science fiction, pulp